Probe Launched for U.S.-Japan Study of Radiation Belts

Associated Press

NASA launched a rocket Friday with a Japanese scientific satellite that will swing by the moon and use lunar gravity as a slingshot to propel it nearly a million miles out into space.

The 12-story U.S. Delta rocket blasted off at 10:26 a.m. from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. NASA has only five minutes to launch the rocket because of the need to precise lunar alignment.

The $160-million, four-year mission to explore the tail of the magnetosphere, a comet-shaped region surrounding Earth and containing belts, is a joint project between NASA and the Japanese Institute for Space and Astronautical Science.

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